Sport Ludvig Aberg needed a closing birdie to win the Jones Cup and he delivered

13:03  08 february  2021
13:03  08 february  2021 Source:   golfweek.com

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You won’t see Ludvig Aberg’s name in a Walker Cup lineup, but he might show up on a Ryder Cup roster down the road a few years. Over a long weekend at the Jones Cup, where qualification for the Walker Cup – a biennial amateur team competition between the U.S. and Great Britain and Ireland – was an intriguing sub-plot, Sweden’s Aberg demonstrated an ability to compete in any kind of weather.

a man holding a pot: Ludvig Aberg Jones Cup © Provided by Golfweek Ludvig Aberg Jones Cup

And to hold off some of America’s best with down-the-stretch firepower.

Aberg needed to birdie the 18th hole on Sunday in Sea Island, Georgia, to avoid a playoff with Americans Cole Hammer and Davis Thompson, two very likely picks for the U.S. Walker Cup team, and England’s Alex Fitzpatrick. Aberg, a sophomore at Texas Tech, hammered a drive down the middle at Ocean Forest Golf Club’s par-4 closing hole and stuck an 8-iron to 7 feet. He drained the putt to end it there.

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“It was really cool to be able to do that on that kind of stage against those kind of players,” Aberg said at the end of the round.

Scores: Jones Cup Invitational

The putt on the 18th green sealed it, but arguably, Aberg’s most heroic act of the weekend came on Saturday. Scoring conditions were ripe in Friday’s opening round as a south wind made Ocean Forest getable. Aberg posted an even-par 72, which left him trailing Fitzpatrick, who had a tournament-record 64, by eight shots.

Conditions reversed on Saturday, with wind and rain driving Fitzpatrick’s score 13 shots higher. Many players in the field had a similar turnaround, but not Aberg. His 2-under 70 was his low round of the week and tied Duke commit Kelly Chinn for the low round of the day.

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“Yesterday obviously the weather was brutal,” Aberg said. “Wind coming sideways and rain just shattering down. It was really tough yesterday and I’m really proud of how I handled not only myself but my golf game yesterday.”

Aberg’s goal was to reach 4 under on Sunday – he thought that would be enough to clinch the title. A closing 72 left him at 2 under, but still one shot ahead of not only Hammer and Thompson but also Fitzpatrick, a Wake Forest junior who was a major factor for Great Britain and Ireland at the 2019 Walker Cup.

At the start of the day, Aberg was one shot behind the leaders. He played the front nine in 1 over but birdied the 10th hole. At the 14th hole, he flared his second shot right and landed in a golf cart, walking away with bogey.

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“I hit the side and it ended up staying in the golf cart,” he said. “God knows what would have happened if it didn’t hit the cart.”

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On the next tee box, Aberg asked Fitzpatrick, playing in the same group, if he knew what the leaders were doing. Fitzpatrick thought Thompson had played his way to 3 under. When Aberg made birdie at No. 15, it put him in the driver’s seat.

Aberg had the solo lead but lost it with a bogey at No. 17. That left him needing the birdie to win.

A week ago, Aberg was still on the waiting list for this event. As he returns to Lubbock, Texas, this week, team qualifying awaits. Aberg decided to add the Jones Cup to his schedule – or try to – because of the history associated with the event.

“I obviously heard a lot of stories about the tournament, how good the stats are, how good the course is and the field this year was incredible,” he said. “Obviously getting to play a tournament before our actual spring season starts is huge.”

Last spring’s COVID shutdown happened quickly, from Aberg’s perspective. One minute he was anticipating the next tournament start and the next he was flying home to Sweden. He spent nearly six months there, but that time also included a pair of victories on a Swedish pro tour called the Nordic Golf League. Aberg compares it to the Mackenzie Tour or Latinoamerica Tour.

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Aberg last won an amateur event in the U.S. in November 2019, when he prevailed at the Sun Bowl All-American Classic.

“I didn’t necessarily work on anything specific more than the usual things I work on,” he said of the COVID break. “I really took the time to work on my technique. I felt like we’re going to have a few months now where you can really develop in terms of strength and staying uninjured. I really used the time to get stronger, basically.”

Aberg returned to Texas Tech in the fall and made two starts with the team. He feels himself feeding off his coaches and teammates, and they’ll likely be feeding off him just as much, especially after his Jones Cup win.

“You can’t really deny the fact that all of us are good players,” he said, “and that we are getting better because of each other.”


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